Lessons for us all to learn

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

–– William Shakespeare



We do not have to be as tortured and as beset as Macbeth to envision life at its most brutal and cynical. We merely have to be trapped in unprecedented circumstances that give us no comfort, and are played out in full public view.

Unparalleled –– almost freakish –– was the lot of Nation publisher Vivian-Anne Gittens, editor-in-chief Roy Morris and senior journalist Sanka Price yesterday, as they stood before the court charged with showing in the Saturday Sun of October 26 “an indecent photograph” of two schoolchildren “under the age of 18 years, to wit 14 years”, purportedly having sex in a vacant classroom.

And there was no consolation to be drawn from the three being seated on the prisoners’ bench next to murder accused Ryan Bullen,
who was charged with the death of a 14-year-old girl.

It was not the traditional media’s finest hour, and whatever position individual media houses may have taken prior on the Nation publication of this most controversial matter, hearts everywhere were bound
to be heavy. The arrests and criminal charging of newspaper heads in the execution of their professional duties are not happenings to which
we are accustomed.

And that these extraordinary circumstances should arise at a time The Nation is celebrating 40 years of serving the community, and the wider world, during which there have been undoubtedly some outstanding achievements and momentous occasions, makes it the more sad. Life could be indeed “a walking shadow”.

We could not fail to see the dismay and profound grief etched upon the face of Nation editor emeritus and newspaper founding member Harold Hoyte as he observed some of the proceedings in the courtyard. Memories of better and happier times will have called out to him, as, contradistinctively, Shakespeare’s imagery of life strutting and fretting
on stage filled his tearful eyes. We sincerely empathize with him.

The current Nation top brass may beat themselves up on account of how things seemed to have all gone wrong, but their strength will better come from this troubling experience’s lesson, and from having learnt the price they may have to pay for standing up for what they may believe in. Assuredly, Dawn Thomas, CEO of One Caribbean Media (OCM) ––
of which the Nation Publishing Co. is a member –– has the backs
of Mrs Gittens and Messieurs Morris and Price.

Ms Thomas doesn’t “believe there is any merit in the charges” brought against the Nation trio and will have OCM “vigorously defend them
in the court” –– to the very end, we take it.

The arrests of the three are associated with the publication of a detailed news item on the Facebook posting of a cellphone video
of two students allegedly having sex in a classroom and being cheered on by peers.

The coverage sparked immediate public debate, with some Barbadians questioning the failure of teachers to monitor pupils and the breach of the no-cellphone rule at school. Others knocked the posting of the video and the Facebook fans who continued circulating it.

The controversy of course engulfed the Nation newspaper –– the Saturday Sun –– which was clobbered by some readers, and passionately supported by others, for the publishing of the Sex Scene that had gone viral on the Internet.

There are lessons to be learnt by us all from this Nation reality.
We must be ever so minded to be on our Ps and Qs; ever so careful
what we say, decide, write and do; never forgetful that whatever measuring stick we use in the judgement of others may very well be applied against us ourselves.

Most importantly, we must ever be wary that what may be argued
to be “in the public interest” may not be in our own.

For after all the “sound and fury”, it may come to “signify nothing”.

It is not a happy hour!

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